Roll up, roll up! Please form an orderly queue for the all-new, all-outrageous Sex Scientific Research Show! According to the Australian Daily Telegraph, fat men enjoy this carnival of degenerate academia when it lasts longer:
Where to begin with such a headline? For starters, it’s cynical, sloppy, and daft. It’s a barely significant generalisation dressed up as a salient fact. Ambiguity compounds its wrongness: it’s supposed to mean that (some) fat men have longer lasting sex, but the Telegraph‘s use of enjoy suggests that they might not enjoy it if it didn’t last as long.
And have or enjoy what? This too is open to misinterpretation. Summarising the research in lucid headlinese requires rearranging the above (e.g., “Scientific research shows…”) or placing a comma after sex and an s at the end of show. Without them the headline is made sillier still, because it changes the object from longer lasting sex to longer lasting sex scientific research show.
The last three words are probably intended to stress the article’s pseudo-respectability. There are fewer pretensions at the Weekly World News, which offers the snappier but equally inane “Study: Fat Men Better In Bed”. Granted, the apparent source of this ‘news’ has a much duller title and conclusion, and it appears in a journal few men would read in public, but at least it doesn’t insult our intelligence and our grasp of elementary syntax..